NEW ORLEANS - It may not look valuable, but 17-year-old James Hatch treasures his first football helmet.
“It was the start everything for me,” said Hatch, “I felt somebody cared enough to invest one of those helmets in me.”
Isidore Newman assistant football coach Bradley Farris, brother of WWL reporter Meg Farris, gave James his first helmet after Diane Hatch, a maintenance worker at Newman, told him her young son needed a helmet.
“James' eyes were as big as dinner plates. He was so happy to get this thing,” said Coach Farris.
“He was about eight-years-old then. He was just so excited and coach found a helmet for him. He slept with it for about two or three weeks,” said Mrs. Hatch.
James ended up attending Newman high and was co-captain of the football team last year. Now, he has a scholarship to Cornell University and will play football at the school. But before leaving he asked coach Farris for another favor, to teach him how to swim.
“One because we have to take a swim test when I get to Cornell and another is that I just feel it's something I need to learn how to do,” said James.
Coach Farris has been teaching younger kids to swim at Newman for nearly 32 years and volunteered to teach James in his spare time.
“This guy is going to make it and as an educator as a teacher as a nurturer I want to see these guys make it. I want to see them be successful,” said Coach Farris.
His mother hopes James will become the first in the family to finish college, “and to reach back into the community and help people as he's been helped.”